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The first time as farce, the second time as panto
May 19, 2013 3:42 AM   Subscribe

As Hegel presumably remarks somewhere, all great Tory crises appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as farce, the second as farce. -- Chris Brooke presents a history of "swivel eyed loon" as an insult used against a certain kind of rightwing Tory.

The term has become relevant again when one of David Cameron's closest allies described Conservative Party activists as swivel-eyed loons:
The mystery Tory made the remarks at a party dinner event – allegedly in earshot of journalists – after being asked about the decision of 116 party MPs to defy the prime minister and vote in favour of an amendment regretting the absence of an EU referendum in the Queen's speech.

The unnamed figure is reported as saying: "It's fine. There's really no problem. The MPs just have to do it because the associations tell them to, and the associations are all mad, swivel-eyed loons."
posted by MartinWisse (52 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Title swiped from Jamie K..
posted by MartinWisse at 3:42 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ok, now that we understand "swivel-eyed loon", let's move on to the much more challenging: "useless spawny-eyed parrot-faced wazzock".
posted by superelastic at 4:14 AM on May 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well this is a bullshit piece of partisan nonsense.
posted by zoo at 4:27 AM on May 19, 2013


the Anthony Wells-inspired Google-bomb (remember Google-bombing?) that ensured that, around the end of 2004, anyone who entered the phrase “swivel-eyed loons” was immediately directed to the UKIP home page.

I didn't know this - most amusing!
posted by Flitcraft at 4:52 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


UKIP worries me. My parents are threatening to vote for them in the next election. I warn them not to read the Daily Mail/Express but all this fear mongering is getting to them. I'll be glad to see the back of Cameron but to see the country veer more to the right fills me with dismay.
posted by arcticseal at 5:44 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


BBC - Tories deny making slur, Telegraph reporter stands by story; Times and Mirror also report it.

You can see how afraid the tories are of UKIP right now, and for good reason. There are a lot of people who want out of Europe and no-one is listening to them except UKIP. Immigration is overwhelming the country and again, only UKIP listens and says what they want to hear. And if you speak out about immigration you are labelled as a "bigot" or "xenophobe" or "racist" - so, no opinions allowed then? The problems are never addressed by the rich and powerful or by the government, they are pro these things, they want more immigration and to stay in the EU.

It is a fucking travesty that there are a million British kids on the fucking dole, yet millions of foreign born nationals are here working. These kids have done nothing to earn this dole-ship, it has been forced on them due to to government and business wanting to keep wages down and to continue their fragmantation and disempowering of the working (and to some extent the middle) class.

Personally, where the EU is concerned - if the tories and want us out, we should be in, but then, if the USA is dictating we should be in, then clearly we should be out. So as you can see, it is difficult.
posted by marienbad at 5:47 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of the funniest things about this story has been listening to BBC presenters trying to use the phrase 'swivel-eyed loons' whilst keeping a straight face.
posted by pharm at 6:02 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


More on the general concept of 'swivel eyed loons' - Chris Dillow on the nature of political activism which "unusually amongst voluntary activities, does not make people happier."
posted by Flitcraft at 6:04 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


This phrase needs to jump the pond. the US political scene is just swarming with swivel-eyed loons
posted by Bwithh at 6:26 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Most British post ever? Yes.
posted by SkinnerSan at 6:29 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


And if you speak out about immigration you are labelled as a "bigot" or "xenophobe" or "racist" - so, no opinions allowed then?

Yes, 'You can't talk about immigration'.

It is a fucking travesty that there are a million British kids on the fucking dole, yet millions of foreign born nationals are here working.

Evidence suggests there is little correlation between those two statements. E.g. here:
1) Immigrants and native-born workers are not close substitutes, on average (existing migrants are closer substitutes for new migrants). This means that native-born workers are, on average, cushioned from rises in supply caused by rising immigration (Manacorda et al, 2007).

2) The less skilled are closer substitutes for immigrants than the more highly skilled, so any pressures from increased competition from jobs is more likely to be found among less skilled workers (Manacorda et al, 2007). These effects appear to be borne out by other studies, but the effects are not large (Dustmann et al, 2008; Nickell and Salaheen, 2008).

3) There is no evidence that EU migrants affect the labour market performance of native-born workers (Lemos and Portes, 2007; Goujard et al, 2011).
posted by wilko at 6:31 AM on May 19, 2013 [17 favorites]


Hello Nigel!
posted by Decani at 6:35 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is a fucking travesty that there are a million British kids on the fucking dole, yet millions of foreign born nationals are here working.

Yeah that's right. All these Asians and Poles pushing in front of British kids and elbowing them out of the way so they can get the jobs. The reason so many British kids are on the dole is because many of them are lazy shiftless bastards who don't want to work for a living. They prefer their X-factor fantasies of just pocketing a windfall without making any effort whatsoever. The travesty is we encourage such fecklessness while persecuting those who are unable to work like the ill and handicapped. EDIT was this a parody post? Were you impersonating a swivel-eyed loon to show the Americans what one sounds like?
posted by epo at 6:46 AM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Mandelson - "we were sending out search parties for people and encouraging them, in some cases, to take up work in this country.”

So it is the kids fault they are unemployed because they are lazy? Right. Got it.
posted by marienbad at 6:57 AM on May 19, 2013


When I saw Lord Feldman and swivel eyed loons in the same headline my first thought was "is Marty Feldman still alive?"
posted by bukvich at 7:01 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


This phrase needs to jump the pond. the US political scene is just swarming with swivel-eyed loons

My God, yes; If Michele Bachmann (and her famous eyes) is not a swivel-eyed loon, there never has been such a creature.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:01 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


From the first page of your link, Wilco:

"There are potential economic benefits associated with migration, especially to fill gaps in the
UK labour market – where there are shortages of workers..."


There has not been a shortage of workers here since practically forever. And with 1.5 million on the dole when mass immigration began, there wasn't a shortage then

"By early 2012, 14.5% of the UK’s working age population had been born abroad, up from
around 8% in 1995 (Figure 1). "


So there are more foreign born workers comprising the workforce and yet "Immigrants and native-born workers are not close substitutes, on average (existing migrants are closer substitutes for new migrants). This means that native-born workers are, on average, cushioned from rises in supply caused by rising immigration"

and

"There is no evidence that EU migrants affect the labour market performance of native-born workers."

Right. Got it again.
posted by marienbad at 7:03 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The reason so many British kids are on the dole is because many of them are lazy shiftless bastards who don't want to work for a living.

There's something really weird about hearing someone who considers themselves at least leftish making such an argument.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:06 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is a fucking travesty that there are a million British kids on the fucking dole, yet millions of foreign born nationals are here working.
and
The reason so many British kids are on the dole is because many of them are lazy shiftless bastards who don't want to work for a living.
Neither of these two views are true.

1) The claim that "foreigners take our jobs" was made as long ago as the 1880s about Jewish people settling in the East End. Research at the time (and I believe ever since) showed that the effect on the availability of jobs was small.

2) The difference between what jobs migrants take and "natives" take is often due to economic strategies. Working five years in the fields to earn enough money to take home and start a business is different from working in the fields for the rest of your life. Such work is one step up for migrants, where as it could be "it" for natives. Look at unlawful migrants in the US: they work back-breaking jobs not because they want to, but because it is enough to help them stay and further the prospects of their children.

Besides all this, the size of the migration from Eastern Europe was big due to a unique set of circumstances, namely the UK opening their borders before France, Italy, and Germany. That was a screw-up, but it's not going to happen that way again.
posted by Jehan at 7:13 AM on May 19, 2013 [12 favorites]


It is a fucking travesty that there are a million British kids on the fucking dole, yet millions of foreign born nationals are here working.

Steady on.
posted by Damienmce at 7:13 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


To a certain extent it's interesting that this thread has almost inadvertently turned into a microcosmic crystallisation of the very issues that [mystery Tory] was hamfistedly trying address when he made his remarks: Britain genuinely finds itself, strangely and difficultly, with a vocal and unhappy group of people who are veering substantially more towards the right than the governing party they traditionally support. They have certain ingrained beliefs -- about immigration, about relationships with our European partners, about hitherto marginal matters such as gay marriage -- and they feel that those beliefs are being ignored or sidelined by 'their' government. That those in power (or those of the Left) point out that some of the things they may believe (that immigration causes unemployment; that being in the EU makes Britain poorer) just aren't true makes them even more angry, and even more outspoken. They feel there is a 'consensus' to silence and marginalise their opinions, which just makes those eyes swivel a little more.

On the insult itself, Flitcraft's link makes an excellent point: political activism, like most 'enthusiast' undertakings, is pretty far from 'normal', in the sense that it is something only a minority of the population pursue. That it can engender suspicious amounts of passion makes them easy targets for everyone else. As a swivel-eyed ideologue of the Left, I know how that feels, despite fervently believing everything these particular loons adhere to is nonsense.
posted by hydatius at 8:40 AM on May 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


When I hear "swivel-eyed loon", I think of Marty Feldman.

"They feel there is a 'consensus' to silence and marginalise their opinions, which just makes those eyes swivel a little more."

I think it is a bad thing in any democracy when the views of a minority group are maliciously (and in this case gleefully) dismissed by the powerful majority.
posted by three blind mice at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not when they're the political equivalent of the nutter on the bus.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:20 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


tbm: I am not sure where 'maliciously' dismissed comes from, nor why it is relevant. If one politician or political party is asserting one thing, and an opponent suggests something that is contrary then automatically they are dismissing it. This is simply politics - they have their own platform to stand on and positions to defend, so dismissal of some other views is pretty natural. It becomes even more understandable when you consider that we are talking about groups which hold a particular issue effectively as an article of faith, without any recourse to public debate or to considering any new evidence that might emerge.

It is also worth bearing in mind that hydatius does not say there is a consensus to silence and marginalise their oopinions, merely that they believe that there is, which is not the same thing.
posted by biffa at 9:28 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those banging on about immigration aren't being hushed. They have three daily newspapers and two political parties pandering to them. They're only upset because other folk want to talk about real issues like the economy, health, and education.
posted by Jehan at 9:28 AM on May 19, 2013 [9 favorites]


Hi!

I'm an immigrant. Don't worry - I'm not stealing all your jobs - just one!

I hope that's okay. I mean, I'm not on benefits, so that's one myth dispelled, right? I'm paying my all my proper taxes - at least, that's what it says on my payslip every month. And I'm definitely not using any loopholes.

And I don't have any children, so I'm not receiving child benefit, or sending my children to a publicly-funded school, or getting free prescriptions and dental care on the NHS for this child. And it's totally cool that the money's going to your children instead - healthy, happy, and well-educated children are important, right? That's why you're completely reorganising the education system, right?

Plus, I'm not usually that ill, so I'm not using a lot of the NHS. A few prescriptions, but fairly cheap ones. It's better that the money goes towards you, especially if more measles or rubella outbreaks occur. I mean, I'm vaccinated, and that only cost me a few dollars, so I'd hate to take any money away from you if you get sick!

And I bought my house on a good mortgage and didn't get any government funding either. Boy, let me tell you, that was difficult, too! Not having a credit rating in this country makes it really hard to get anything done, but now I'm paying my council tax, because the county council does so much for us!

So I really hope it was okay that I moved over here. I mean, along with the whole rigmarole of moving, I had to pay a lot of money to get that permanent residency sticker in my passport. I don't quite remember how much it was 12 years ago, but now it's £753 for it. And I hope it's okay that I haven't started the process for naturalisation, yet. I mean, I want to, of course, because then I'll be able to vote, but I don't really have £874 for it right now, not to mention the £50 for the Life in the UK test, or the £80 for the naturalisation ceremony.

And I know that you probably really wanted my job, and that it's really awful that you're in a different job, but I hope we can still be friends!

Love,

Katemonkey
(fond of HAMBURGER)
posted by Katemonkey at 10:58 AM on May 19, 2013 [21 favorites]


It is a fucking travesty that there are a million British kids on the fucking dole, yet millions of foreign born nationals are here working.

The reason so many British kids are on the dole is because many of them are lazy shiftless bastards who don't want to work for a living.


A curse on both your houses.
posted by Summer at 11:18 AM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm an immigrant. Don't worry - I'm not stealing all your jobs - just one!

I hope that's okay. I mean, I'm not on benefits, so that's one myth dispelled, right?
You can't win that easily:

Immigrant with job: "Stealing British jobs!"
Immigrant without a job: "Stealing British welfare!"
posted by Jehan at 11:33 AM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Immigrants! Don't get me started on immigrants!

They don't want to work, they just want to come here and laze around on benefits and take our houses. And also our jobs! Because immigrants can be lazy and feckless and benefit scrounging and also work harder than us and take all our jobs at the same time. Immigrants can do this because immigrants are magic. Immigrants!

Now I know what you're all going to say, you pinko crazies... you're going to say that immigrants buy things here, as well as working here, that they start businesses and employ people and consume British products and follow our football teams (our teams!) and salute our royals and all of that sort of thing.

You're going to argue that immigration just grows the economy and adds dynamism and cultural diversity to to the national experience.

But that's not true, because immigrants are magic! They come here, and laze about and simultaneously take all our jobs and they never buy anything or employ anyone because immigrants don't need to eat or clothe themselves. Except when they're taking our food! Our British food!

And you know the real injustice of all this? It's the way that these immigrants (immigrants!) are doing something that British people would never do to any other nation. British people would never go to any other country and take over their land, and tell them how to run their country! How would you feel, Indians, if British people came to your country and told you how to run it? How would you feel, Kenyans, if that happened to you? You'll never know! Because it would never, ever happen!

No, I think we all need to agree that immigration, that taboo topic that's never discussed in the papers or in parliament, needs to be firmly addressed with the well-thought-out arguments outlined above. Because people who think that immigrants are just people who need to be treated with human dignity and not as political pawns in some parochial power game... those people are the real bigots!
posted by Dreadnought at 11:37 AM on May 19, 2013 [19 favorites]


Yeah, there's always gotta be some people living in Richard Curtisland.
posted by yoHighness at 11:46 AM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bravo Katemonkey! *standing ovation*

I'm an immigrant, my wife is an immigrant, but apparently we're the right kind of immigrant because "we know you" and "it's not the same as the ones we read about in the paper". All immigrants are the same as you and I and Solent Green - they're people.
posted by arcticseal at 12:04 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


but apparently we're the right kind of immigrant because "we know you"

Ie. "you're white and from a country we've actually heard from".
posted by MartinWisse at 12:12 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


People who bang on – in the Daily Mail, no less, a newspaper that has a circulation of 2.5 million(!) – about how they "can't talk about immigration", and about how "the political mainstream" ignores the views of hard-working Britons about said subject are the equivalent to folks who, having had a particularly obnoxious/sexist/racist comment deleted on MeFi, come to MeTa and complain about being SILENCED ALL MY LIFE. It's bollocks on Metatalk, and it's bollocks when it appears in the Mail. Or The Sun. Or The Express. Or The Times. Or The Telegraph. Combined circulation, approx. 8 million.
posted by Len at 12:16 PM on May 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ie. "you're white and from a country we've actually heard from".

Nah, I think it really is about "because we know you". People say the same thing when they're going on about how everyone of [race/ethnicity/religion/orientation/profession] is bad, especially if it's a particularly othering kind of distinction like race or language — "Well, they're all terrible, except for all the ones I've ever personally known, who are okay folks. Not like the other ones!" You'd think it would be a clue that the speaker should re-evaluate the places they get their information, but they don't always take it that way.
posted by hattifattener at 1:20 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Edit fail: Soylent Green. Autocorrect hates literature.

Yeah, it's irrelevant what you ethnicity is as it's knowing you're personally not a two-headed axe murderer on benefits whereas the other immigrants they haven't met obviously are. It's the Other and hence easy to hate/despise.
posted by arcticseal at 2:25 PM on May 19, 2013


There's too much irony and sarcasm in this thread to understand most of it, so I'll just address Jehan and Wilco's sensible arguments...

The general thrust of your arguments are entirely correct: ambitious young immigrants coming to your country, often skilled, are great for the economy as a whole, and if they displace some locals, their contribution outweighs it overall. Further, their social benefit can also be great: London's schools have improved because of immigrant children, who compensate for poorer English (initially) with better attitudes and family skills.

But you overlook, I think, the different impact that immigrants have on the locals with whom they compete directly. The economy as a whole will benefit. All classes will benefit in the long run. But in the short run it is perfectly rational to observe that poorly-skilled young local men are being out-competed and disadvantaged in the jobs market by better-skilled and (anecdotally) harder-working immigrants. These young men and their families resent these immigrants even as these immigrants benefit the nation as a whole.

I would argue that the policy response to this would be improving schools and skills training, but isolationist and exclusionary responses to free markets (in this case in labor movement) are common to left and right, not solely a preserve of the traditional right.

Dislike of immigration is unpleasant but not irrational for some segments of UK society.
posted by alasdair at 2:27 PM on May 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


UK research suggests that immigration has a small impact on average wages of existing workers but more significant effects along the wage distribution: low-wage workers lose while medium and high-paid workers gain.

Research does not find a significant impact of overall immigration on unemployment in the UK, but the evidence suggests that immigration from outside the EU could have a negative impact on the employment of UK-born workers, especially during an economic downturn.
But in the long run:
For both wages and employment, short run effects of immigration differ from long run effects: any declines in the wages and employment of UK-born workers in the short run can be offset by rising wages and employment in the long run.
All from The Labour Market Effects of Immigration
posted by alasdair at 2:47 PM on May 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


And if you speak out about immigration you are labelled as a "bigot" or "xenophobe" or "racist"

People upset about immigration aren't necessarily xenophobic bigoted racists. Many of them are simply dupes for xenophobic bigoted racists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:51 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I agree that people's perceptions of the economic effects of migration are sometimes sincere, if wrong. It's often "common sense" that 1 million migrants and 1 million workless must be related, and I don't always blame people for making that link. If you're unemployed and walking down Scunthorpe high street it is hugely obvious that a demographic shift has taken place: you can literally hear Polish and other languages everywhere. But politicians need to be "thought leaders" and put our immediate livedness into its true economic context.

I also agree that the policy response should be about education and skills. This in a way links together both the "migrants take our jobs" and "young folk won't do real work". We--quite rightly--bring up young people to expect a good job with good pay and conditions, but do far too little to give them the right skills to compete for those jobs. Secondary education is sometimes shockingly poor and even university education is too often much below standard.
posted by Jehan at 5:31 PM on May 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Isn't unemployment lower in Britain now than in it was in the early 80's (prior to Maastricht and the easing of immigration rules)?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:44 PM on May 19, 2013



People who bang on – in the Daily Mail, no less, a newspaper that has a circulation of 2.5 million(!) – about how they "can't talk about immigration", and about how "the political mainstream" ignores the views of hard-working Britons about said subject are the equivalent to folks who, having had a particularly obnoxious/sexist/racist comment deleted on MeFi, come to MeTa and complain about being SILENCED ALL MY LIFE.

Except not really. The reason the UKIP has become powerful is because there are a lot of people with anti-immigration and anti-Europe views, and the media market is, rationally, catering to them, but all the major political parties have treated them like poison. In both the US and the UK, anti-globalization sentiment is a constituency with no party to serve it, and it was just a matter of time before some ambitious politicians noticed this great big unaddressed market.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 11:29 PM on May 19, 2013


People who bang on – in the Daily Mail, no less, a newspaper that has a circulation of 2.5 million(!) – about how they "can't talk about immigration",

People can't talk about immigration. And even to the degree that they can talk about it, they feel that they're unfairly judged for doing so.

The assertion that "actually, people can talk about immigration and look - this is why" is a bullshit tactic designed to further belittle and silence those people who know immigration is something that is difficult to discuss.

Yes - it can be discussed, but it can't be discussed rationally, and it can't be discussed without (to use the vocabulary of the left) people making tone and silencing arguments.

There's a reason that UKIP have to say that they're not racist on their website. It's because of the assertion that saying there's too much immigration is something said only by racists. This assertion is continuously promulgated. So UKIP, etc. end up defending themselves on multiple fronts. They end up having to second guess, over analyse and apologise for everything they say. This is a silencing behaviour. This is why these people believe they "can't talk about immigration".

Laughing at this and pulling the "Look at the daily mail - it's all they talk about.." line is a bullshit move designed to further humiliate, distance and silence.

FWIW, I think the emphasis on immigration is racist. But it's racist in the way we're all unconsciously racist sometimes. It's something we should be able to admit and dissect without a constant barrage of shaming coming from a group of people who seem to love to shame.

And so we come to this post. A post about swivel-eyed-loons posted and endorsed by a group of differently opinioned swivel-eyed-loons. Nonsense politicking designed around an agenda. Name calling for the sake of point scoring.

And I haven't even got to the point where I ask why it's acceptable to call someone on the right a lunatic, when doing it the other way will get a deleted post and a 1000 comment metatalk post about laughing at mental health issues.
posted by zoo at 3:02 AM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is a fucking travesty that there are a million British kids on the fucking dole, yet millions of foreign born nationals are here working.

The reason so many British kids are on the dole is because many of them are lazy shiftless bastards who don't want to work for a living.

Ugh, my fellow Brits, god how I hate this line of thinking - straight out of the frying pan and into the fire. It's depressing how easily scapegoats are created in this country, how easily we lapse back into bigotry, and even coming out in defence of one group (immigrants) have to stereotype and write off another (the young, the poor, "chavs", whatever).

On immigration, the general censensus is that it is risky, dangerous, an issue to be managed, but people disagree on the degree to which it has to be prioritised, and the way in which it is to be handled. If you are concerned with immigration, you're not being silenced - you're part of the mainstream of the political debate, believe it or not, whether your exact position (perhaps more extreme) is being responded to (which, you know, fuck it, it usually is). Try arguing for increased immigration, fewer or even no border controls, and then you can talk about being outside of mainstream debate.
posted by iivix at 3:22 AM on May 20, 2013


There's a reason that UKIP have to say that they're not racist on their website. It's because of the assertion that saying there's too much immigration is something said only by racists.

FWIW, I think the emphasis on immigration is racist. But it's racist in the way we're all unconsciously racist sometimes. It's something we should be able to admit and dissect without a constant barrage of shaming coming from a group of people who seem to love to shame.

So... What you're saying is that immigration is a racist issue, but we shouldn't call these racists out on this particular kind of racism because... we all do it? Great, so your defence of UKIP is just to be an apologist for racism, guess there's not much more to be said about that.
posted by iivix at 3:28 AM on May 20, 2013


No iivix - I'm saying that the way which we create structures and mindsets which actively hurt those we have othered is to a degree unconcious and to a degree enforced and hidden by the society we live in. This is a pretty mainstream idea, and it's one that's been discussed time and again here on metafilter.

Immigration is a racist issue, but wanting checks on immigration doesn't automatically make you a racist.

There's no apologism. I just wish there was less shaming.

I don't agree with marienbad for example. I think (like every other person in the world) she needs to check her privilege. But I'm not going to call her "the nutter on the bus" or a "swivel eyed loon" or automatically categorise her as a racist. This doesn't help. In fact, it actively harms the conversation.
posted by zoo at 5:14 AM on May 20, 2013


On Question Time a few days ago, the EU referendum came up and there was a lady in the audience who as Very Cross Indeed about Britain being a part of the EU and Very Cross Indeed that she was not being allowed a vote Right Now.

She was so Very Cross she began to insist that the Tory party really needed a change in leadership over this issue. When pressed who she thinks should be the leader she replied: "How about Michael Gove??" (*tittering laughter from the audience*) "Or... or what about Boris Johnson??"

Something tells me that any sort of intelligent conversation about this issue is a bit of an uphill battle.

(I'm also a recent immigrant who has stolen all the jobs and therefore have apparently paid so much tax HMRC owes her 500 quid this self-assessment round - which I plan on cutting up to bits and eating rather than spending it on the local economy.)
posted by like_neon at 5:25 AM on May 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


zoo: There's a reason that UKIP have to say that they're not racist on their website. It's because of the assertion that saying there's too much immigration is something said only by racists. This assertion is continuously promulgated. So UKIP, etc. end up defending themselves on multiple fronts. They end up having to second guess, over analyse and apologise for everything they say. This is a silencing behaviour. This is why these people believe they "can't talk about immigration".
[...]
FWIW, I think the emphasis on immigration is racist. But it's racist in the way we're all unconsciously racist sometimes. It's something we should be able to admit and dissect without a constant barrage of shaming coming from a group of people who seem to love to shame.


Look, I'm totally with you that unconscious racism and its structural effects are a problem, and one that everyone, for themselves, should be aware of and work on to keep in check. On the other hand, here in the Daily Mirror is a quote that Chris Pain, UKIP leader of the opposition at Lincolnshire County Council, apparently posted on Facebook:
“Have you noticed that if you rearrange the letters in ‘illegal immigrants’, and add just a few more letters, it spells, ‘Go home you free-loading, benefit-grabbing, resource-sucking, baby-making, non-English-speaking ********* and take those other hairy-faced, sandal-wearing, bomb-making, camel-riding, goat-********, raghead ******** with you.’”
And from the same story, here's Peter Entwhistle, UKIP party chairman in Bury, on Barack Obama:
“I bet he’s a closet ‘Imam’ as well!

"If I ever see him on a Greyhound bus wearing a rucksack, I’m getting off!!”
Neither of those seem very unconscious about their racism, and I don't see anything in them that isn't deserving of shame and/or ridicule.
posted by Len at 2:05 PM on May 20, 2013


I mean, when you're posting stuff that's extreme enough that even members of the BNP – y'know, actual fascists – know better than to post in public, with you name attached, I don't know what you'd expect people to call you, other than racist.
posted by Len at 2:12 PM on May 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Try arguing for increased immigration, fewer or even no border controls, and then you can talk about being outside of mainstream debate.

You mean the argument made by every mainstream member of the Tory and Labour parties, as well as the entire business community, the Wall St Journal, and even fucking Slate? That's what you call the position outside of the mainstream.

I just keep picturing Mundt's final confrontation with Barton Fink, the hotel collapsing around them as the working class guy shouts at the well-off, educated would-be voice of the common man: "You don't listen!"
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 3:11 PM on May 20, 2013


It's like David Cameron submitted a human relations question to AskMe about how to mend a relationship with their partner and everyone told him to write a heartfelt email.
posted by like_neon at 3:33 AM on May 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a reason that UKIP have to say that they're not racist on their website. It's because of the assertion that saying there's too much immigration is something said only by racists. This assertion is continuously promulgated. So UKIP, etc. end up defending themselves on multiple fronts. They end up having to second guess, over analyse and apologise for everything they say. This is a silencing behaviour. This is why these people believe they "can't talk about immigration".

You mean there's a reason that UKIP say almost in so many words "We aren't racists but..."

And it is totally different to the reason numerous UKIP elected officials have been caught making racist rants on facebook? And their internal forums are rank with racism and homophobia?
posted by Francis at 5:00 AM on May 21, 2013


Those Mirror articles are damning, yes. And, obviously UKIP have serious problems with their membership. But my point about silencing behaviour stands.

You can mock the "we can't even talk about immigration" narrative or you can try and understand it. At the moment Labour and other left wing parties are laughing whilst the Right pulls itself kicking even further to the right. The left are essentially celebrating the fact that "swivel eyed loons" as a tool is effectively ensuring that the political middle is one where immigrants are not welcomed.

The current focus on UKIP stands to do damage to the conservative party, but it stands to do much more damage to the beliefs of those who vote labour, who believe in equal opportunities and fair work laws.

There's something else I've been thinking about:

People somehow think that all they have to do is somehow demonstrate that a party like the BNP is racist, and it'll stop people voting for that party. This is nonsense. Everyone knows the BNP are racist, but they have enough of a non-racist front for people to lie to themselves (and others) as to why they should vote for the BNP.

"We're not a racist party" isn't a lie told by the leadership to the unthinking voters. It's a lie told by the unthinking voters to each other to make their voting choices more palatable to themselves and each other.

Francis, Len - What you say is right. But it must be obvious to you that the most mainstream right wing party in a country will always contain the racists and the homophobes. If UKIP didn't exist, these comments would be flying around Conservative blogs. In fact, these comments are flying around conservative blogs. You're proving nothing by "exposing" these people, and it does little damage to the base of UKIP supporters.
posted by zoo at 8:16 AM on May 21, 2013


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